Archive for June 2019

Lifting inside Fidelis on the way into Rose Bay

Lifting inside Fidelis on the way into Rose Bay. Will we cross or not?

We have been waiting for the South East breeze for a few weeks now because we know Passion X does relatively better in the reach up and down the course than in the square runs and hard beats to windward. The forecast of nine knots was also favourable so we set the large No 1 light genoa and full main for the day. Despite our careful approach to the line Joli stole the start by coming in closer hauled to the pin mark and then kept going a bit. I think it was Leeward that was the meat in the sandwich to leeward as we tried to get the sheets on so we could point higher. No sooner were we in high mode Joli bore away to the mark and we were able to follow. Very quickly the fast reaching Fidelis was out in front and to windward while we gave Joli a wide berth in between. At the sailing angle to the mark we had reaching sheets sheeting to the the rail and slowly pulled away from the fleet. In the light patches we made up a little ground on Fidelis but at the heads the breeze picked up and they took off again. The leg back to Steele Point was 5 degrees off of close hauled which is good for Passion X as we drop off speed fairly quickly if we point too high. Not needing to point was bonus and we sailed this leg mostly at 7.4 knots which is right on our polar plot for 14 knots of breeze and 45 degrees to the true wind. I could not see the speed from my steering position but Graham kept calling 7.4 and I am not sure if it was true of he just knew that number would keep me happy.
Past Steele Point we got into a progressive lift which we had to carry to the island. Fidelis tacked early and once we tacked at the island we could see ourselves lifting inside her. So good was the lift that we crossed Fidelis with starboard rights and luckily managed to cross her while on port going into the Rose Bay mark. Reaching into Point Piper we were not confident of holding Fidelis out but we did and did so also for the run and work around Shark Island. On the work into the mark at the bottom of Shark Island we received a late lift which delayed our tack for the rounding and that resulted in a small over stand and a loss of distance to Joli. The broad reach back home was also on our favoured angle and again to our surprise we held out Fidelis by a few seconds for our second fastest times for the year.

On handicap Fidelis turned the tables and the improved Rainbow took third place just 14 seconds behind. Allegro and Joli were next in line with the results keeping the progress scores pretty well as they were with first second and third in the progress scores scoring second, third and fourth on the day.

The Starboard cross where we passed Fidelis

The Starboard cross where we passed Fidelis

Back in Race 2 on the 8th May we set our No1 heavy genoa and reefed the main and wondered if we might have been faster with the No 3 jib and full main. Well today we tried this combination and while it was more comfortable it is hard to say that it was quicker. The breeze today rarely went above 15 knots while back in Race 2 it was closer to 19 knots. The fleet also set more conservative gear today so comparisons are difficult. Downwind we were marginally faster and rounded behind Hitchhike after a downwind duel with Allegro who was carrying her big rig. Crosshaven was just behind so the situation was very similar to 8th May. On the work back we went too close to Steele Point and had trouble changing gears in the wind shadow of the point. Larrikin slipped through by sailing wider and coming back on a lift. Fortunately we went further and came back on a big lift too to recover this ground. From Rose Bay we had more trouble shifting gears so it took a while to ease the halyards for the reach to Point Piper. From Point Piper we could not get the jib to fly to windward so had a slow run around the Island. Larrikin was just behind and did not get caught to leeward of Hasta la Vista so she was able to tack to the mark at the appropriate time and come out in front. Leeward also made up ground on this short work.  Now we had Larrikin to windward and Leeward coming through in between. Leeward, to windward, prevailed over Passion X by 2 seconds but we beat them by 3 seconds on handicap.
We were 11th for the day.
Our handicap has increased since the second race but by going through the time differences I feel our time was a minute slower relative to Allegro, Crosshaven, Rainbow and Larrikin but we were relatively faster compared to Crackerjack, Krakatoa and Trim.
Today was clearly quieter than Race 2 which accounts for our minute over Crackerjack and our traffic problems could have been worth a minute but perhaps we could have carried the No 1 Heavy for a marginally better result.
Some things did work well. The reaching lines for the No 3 Jib go under the safety lines and outside the shrouds so that improved the sail shape considerably. Sheeting the jib one hole back on the tracks improved the mid air performance and I would be happy to try sheeting one hole more back in a real blow.

We were thankful for the 15 knots we had today especially after the abandoned race on Sunday with practically no wind at all.

No wind for us on Sunday

No wind for us on Sunday

Everyone should have a dose of random luck and today it was our turn for that unimaginable good turn of fortune within sight of the finishing line.
It was a day where it was hard to pick the next breeze direction and the incoming tide suggested a quick tack onto port to get out of the tide would be the right move. Unfortunately the starboard tackers who held on for the first flick of the breeze to the north did rather well. It worked for them and we were already back in the fleet after a quite good start so we went back onto starboard with the next flick of the breeze and were rewarded by being on the left side of the course in a progressive lift. At Shark Island we took another dig out to the north but this time there was no lift and only a good dose of tide. Off Vauclause we picked up a nice right hand shift but by the time we tacked to stay inside the Sow and Pigs our luck ran out. Joli tacked onto starboard at just the right time while we took the header into the shore to get out of the tide and had to come back on another header. We were in good company with Krakatoa but managed to get the last shirt into the mark to round ahead.
On the long very square run back to the bottom of Shark Island we had Hanni a long way in front and then Allegro, Foreigh Affairs, Amante, Hitchhike, Joli and Crosshaven spread out across the course. Our large genoa poled out on the 6 metre pole was serving us well on the run and we kept creeping up on these last three but could not break through. On the work around Shark Island Joli stretched out her lead on Passion X with Crosshaven in between. We set ourselves the goal of running Crosshaven down before the finish and were making a respectable job of it when the breeze died.
To my surprise the fleet was becalmed just metres in front.
Now was the time to switch to drifting mode. All the halyards were eased and the main eased so much that the boom sat on the rigid vang and let the leech hang out to leeward. Just to the north there was a patch of breeze that would take us away from the finish boat but breeze is breeze and most of the fleet tried to get into it. Crosshaven went further Joli and Passion X squared away to make the finish line. In this last toss of the dice we did better than both Crosshaven and Joli and in the process also passed Allegro and Hitchhike for a most undeserved equal third on handicap and just 18 seconds out of first place.
So tonight we enjoy our place still at the top of the ladder but still reflecting on how far in front the leading boats were on the windward work.

The photo of the tracks tell the story of the windward work rather well and we did enjoy the beat against Agrovation, Fidelis, Krakatoa and Larrikin.  They did not deserve to be left out on the course with no wind to finish while the clock ticked down in favour of the front runners. Krakatoa hung on well to beat Passion X by three seconds but Senta took the money 15 seconds in front. Leeward beat Passion X over the line by 29 seconds to tie on handicap for third place.

The tracks tell the tale of today's windward work.

The tracks tell the tale of today’s windward work.

 

 

Again the sailing has been abandoned and this time with a forecast mild 19 knots. The race committee no doubt took account of the heavy rain this morning and the prevailing 10 degrees air temperature. For now still over two hours before the start the rain has abated and the sun is shining. At least it is shining in my back yard. The rain radar shows more rain on the way up from the south so there will likely be more showers. The real danger at the time of the abandon call was probably the 10 degree Celsius temperature with a chill factor of possibly five degrees on top of that for a “feel like” five degrees.
Now I had contemplated setting up the spray dodger where some of the crew could shelter from the wind and rain but that would not be fair on the rest and the danger of being wet and cold was a very real one.
So again I am left with withdrawal symptoms and perhaps I will call in tomorrow on the radio control Lasers just for a little fix.
Last Sunday’s West Harbour Winter Series result for Passion X was quite miserable as we were last fastest despite a very good start. There was on the course very little breeze and we regularly sailed into nothing and sat there while the fleets (yes plural) starting in 5 minute sequences behind ran down on top. With so many yachts crowded into such a little space it is a credit to the tolerance of the crews that there was no carnage and little real shouting. That the divisions two and three back could cut the corners meant that we were continually passing¬† and then meeting them again on the next leg added to the congestion. What was telling was the acceleration of the light yachts with asymmetric spinnakers on long poles as when the wind was from the right direction they took off. We did OK when the breeze picked up from our right angle and I mean picked up to 5 knots but mostly we sat becalmed with all the divisions enjoying what bit of sun there was on the day.

Sydney Harbour webcam just before scheduled start time for the abandoned race

Sydney Harbour webcam just before scheduled start time for the abandoned race

I could not get my weekly sailing fix on Wednesday due to the strong wind forecast. We were ready to go. I had taken the No 4 jib our of storage from under the front bunks and inserted the battens ready to use it if the wind was stronger than forecast. The No 4 has seen little use since the first season when we were regularly sent out in 20 plus knots on the long Division 1S course up to Manly and with all the cancellations since then I wonder if it will ever get used again. Indeed the sail maker says there is little demand for No 4 jibs due to races being cancelled in conditions when they would be needed.
Now I fully support the cautious approach of race committees but I do wonder if over caution is breeding a generation of sailors and yachts that cannot handle the big breeze. In the first season we came back from Port Stephens in 35 knots with a triple reef and the No 3 jib and in the height of the strong wind I did lower the No 3 jib and proceeded on main alone. That experience was one contributing factor to purchasing the No 4 jib although to be fair had we been racing I would have changed to the storm jib which is as of now still unused.
Perhaps we can have a heavy air series based on the cancelled races where boats with Category 4 safety can compete and practice heavy air sailing.
We have not performed well in heavy airs so I am keen for more practice. In the interest of improving our heavy air performance I have added some outboard sheeting positions for the No 3 and No 4 jibs. This will improve our reaching sheeting angles and possible even be an outboard working sheeting position when we are over powered. Out genoa tracks on Passion X are at 11 degrees to the centre line while on the old Passion they were 14.4 degrees. Whenever it blew and we had the No 3 jib up on the old Passion we had very good performances so it is worth a try widening the sheeting angles on Passion X.

Pad eyes for outboard sheeting of the No 3 and No 4 jibs have been added. Now all we need is a race in breeze.

Pad eyes for outboard sheeting of the No 3 and No 4 jibs have been added. Now all we need is a race in breeze.